Sunday, 3 July 2016

3D Review - A Lottie Lipton Adventure - The Egyptian Enchantment - Author Interview with Dan Metcalf

3D Review -  Lottie Lipton  -  Author Interview with Dan Metcalf

Dan Metcalf is a writer and author of children's books such as The Lottie Lipton Adventures. He lives in Devon with his wife and two sons. He enjoys books, films, comics and making up stories. He has so far absolutely refused to grow up.

What was your favourite children’s book as a child? 

I remember reading the BFG by Roald Dahl and being amazed by the world that he created and the way that he described all the giants, the land in which they lived and of course the food they ate. It helped that my headteacher at the time had read the book in assembly to the whole school, giving the characters fantastic voices and acting out every scene.

What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?

I think my favourite author is Philip Reeve, but I would be hard pressed to pick a favourite by him. Mortal Engines was the first book that got me into his writing, so I'd have to say that, but Here Lies Arthur is masterful.

What do you think makes children’s books so inspirational?

Children’s imaginations are absolutely limitless and I think the best books tap into that. The author takes the vast aircraft hangar that is a child's mind and fills it with amazing characters, out-of-this-world landscapes and compelling plots. An author is just a director, filling the stage in the child's mind with actors and sets, but the stage is infinite and the budget unlimited! Adult books might tend to stick with what the adult knows, occasionally throwing a tasty crime or two, but the best ones stretch the reader's mind and get them to imagine something outside of their own experience.

Why did you start writing for children?

I started out writing scripts for radio and TV, but I was swept away with inspiration after working in a bookshop and discovering the books of Philip Pullman, Tim Bowler, JK Rowling and David Almond. I soon realised that I was able to achieve everything I wanted to do as a writer by writing children's books. I wanted to inspire, educate and entertain. Hopefully I've managed to do some of those!

What made you want to write this book?

I love adventures and wanted to create a book that would get the reader using their puzzle-solving skills as well. I also wanted a girl to be at the centre as I felt there was lots of adventures involving boys.

What is your favourite aspect of writing for children?

Getting out to meet them! I do a lot of events at schools, festivals and libraries and it is great (and a little scary) to stand in front students and hear them talk about reading, writing and their favourite books. I love the activity of writing as well, which is good as that's what I spend a lot of time doing, but I can often look up from my notebook at the end of the day and realise I haven't spoken to anyone all day! I think it's important that I get out and talk to children as I think I might go mad if I didn't (some might say that's already happened...)

Do have to do much research for the Lottie Lipton Adventures?

A fair bit, yes. Most of the artefacts mentioned in the books can actually be found in the British Museum (a few aren't, like the legendary Trident of Neptune and the magical Cairo Cat) I used a lot of books that were written by the British Museum staff to find them. I also ended up using the British Museum website, which everyone should take a look at; they've a great educational section called Young Explorers which was a great help when writing The Lottie Lipton Adventures!

Questions from Lilianna our child reviewer:

Did you visit the British Museum when you were writing this book?

I've only visited twice in my life; once when I was ten and again twenty years later! I wrote the first Lottie Lipton story soon after that second visit but I haven't had a chance to revisit it recently. Maybe I'll only visit it again in twenty years time, and again twenty years after that? That's the great thing with museums, they'll always preserve history while the rest of us get older and older!

Do you do adult puzzles like Sudoku all the time?

Not all the time, no. I love doing them but I'm not that good at them! I spend most of my time writing books but I find that if I ever get stuck then if I do a puzzle or two it keeps my mind turning over without distracting me. I stick to the paper ones, because if I used a phone app or internet games I'd be too tempted to sit and waste time on websites like Facebook and YouTube!

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